From a hotel situated in a Mies van der Rohe–designed building to the trendiest neighborhoods to window-shop, discover the best of what the Windy City has to offer

With magnificent architecture, a collection of world-class hotels, a food scene recognized by Bon Appetit as the best in the country, and the famous iron-wrought Millennium Park in the center of downtown, it’s a surprise to some when people still refer to Chicago as the Second City. Recognized and touted as one of the most design-forward in the country, it seems this Midwestern metropolis is a second city no more. On the heels of the city’s Biennial Architectural Display, Chicago’s design renaissance is reaching even higher bounds—with new restaurants, hotels, museums, and office building structures pushing the envelope on both architectural brilliance and interior design.

Visitors flock to the city year-round, even in the depths of Chicago’s notoriously difficult winters. However, the city isn’t new to the harsh weather, and residents have found creative ways to stay warm and cozy, both inside and out—such as outdoor bars offering thick wool blankets, roaring firepits, and warm-your-bones cocktails. However, Chicagoans will tell you: Visit from late spring to mid-autumn to experience the best that the city has to offer.

Keeping with the trend of live accents and cascading houseplants, Aba—located in hipster-haven Fulton Market—is an Instagrammer’s dream. A large portico draped in English Ivy, life-size plants at every corner and a garden-themed patio with topiary bushes and lush planter boxes, Aba’s design was highly inspired by a summer in the Mediterranean and natural elements, according to senior designer Avril Zayas. “I have always loved greenery in indoor spaces,” Zayas explains. “It creates a natural element that feels relatable and comfortable to guests.”